Swimming to the unknown

Father and chick Brunnich's Guillemot

When a Brunnich’s Guillemot-chick is a few weeks old, it jut got rid of its down feathers and is definitely not ready to fly yet. However, they do have to make their first jump. The parents can’t get enough food to the chick, so they have to bring the chick to the food. They start to circle around the chick, encouraging it to jump from its ledge. Unable to fly, they can’t really decide themselves where they land. If they get unlucky they might land on the tundra, or even worse on a rock or in the mouth of a hungry  Arctic Fox or Glaucous Gull. The lucky ones make it to the water, where they start to swim and head towards the unknown. The father will lead the way (the mother takes off and is never to be seen again) and they spent the next 1.5 month at open sea in the North Atlantic. As the North Atlantic can be quite rough in September, the chick has this loud whistle, so the male can easily find his chick when there are some waves between them.

This picture depicts a male with his chick swimming away to an unknown future.

Arjen Drost

Arjen is a Polar ecologist, nature photographer and full time expedition guide on expedition cruise ships in both Polar regions. With his pictures and stories he likes to show the beauty of these very fragile and threatened places.


  • Hallo Arjen,

    In 2010 zagen wij vanaf de Noorderlicht iets naar het zuiden in de Hinlopenstraat ook een fraaie Blauwe Vinvis vlak bij de boot.
    Foto’s van dit beest staan op mijn website in de gallery Waivissen en ook bij Spitsbergen 2010 “zoogdieren.

    Een mooie waarneming van jullie. De sterk gevlekte huid is inderdaad kenmerkend.
    In november met de Plancius naar Antarctica en de Falklands.
    Ken je nog één of 2 mensen die mee willen.
    Zij kunnen via mijn persoon 20% korting krijgen.
    Reis van 18 november t/m 5 deceber.(vliegreis inbegrepen)


    Peter Zwitser



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